Lisa Luedeke is the author of Smashed, which releases today from Margaret K. McElderry Books. Lisa stopped by the virtual offices to introduce herself and chat about her new book.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Lisa Luedeke] Yoga- loving
Can’t get her face out of a book;
Loves her quiet, her woods, her lake,
Her family & friends,
Just give her that writing time
And all will be fine.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Smashed?
[Lisa Luedeke] Sure. It’s really a story about trying to fill a hole in your life, in your emotional life, and making the wrong choices as you try to do that. Katie’s dad, an alcoholic, abandoned her family when she was twelve, and her mother is never around. She’s basically on her own, with the help of a couple of good friends, and a mentor in her high school field hockey coach, but it’s not enough. After she gets involved with bad-boy Alec, Katie tries to get herself back on track, but one night she makes a mistake she can’t take back, and when lies follow to cover it up, things get out of control.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Lisa Luedeke] When I was seventeen, I was in a terrifying car accident. My best friend and I were asked by a teacher to go on a school errand. We were in my friend’s car and he was driving. It was a cold, wet, November day, and a slushy snow was building up on windy back road in Maine. My friend was a careful driver; we were only going 30 miles an hour—I remember looking at the speedometer. But as we were going around a corner, the slush took hold of the wheels of the car and pulled us into the other lane, just as a car was coming toward us. My friend tried to gain control of the car, to get us back on our side of the road, and we started to turn in the right direction. The last thing I remember was thinking we were going to miss that car by an inch…When I came to, there was blood splattered down the front of my sweater and I thought my friend might be dead.
We were both fine, but that moment wouldn’t leave me for many years. Writing about a difficult time can be cathartic, but I didn’t want to write about that accident. I have no interest in writing memoir. And that particular incident didn’t have the characteristics of a compelling story—it was simply bad luck, bad timing, bad weather.
So I began to do what-ifs…What if an accident was someone’s fault? What if the driver was drunk? And what if the passenger, who was hurt, was not a friend, but someone the driver didn’t even like? Someone she was trying to get away from? As I asked these questions, a situation emerged that interested me, and that’s what I need—a situation that is complex enough to keep me interested as a writer. Then I ask myself, who would find themselves in this particular situation? For me, characters emerge from conflict.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Katie?
[Lisa Luedeke] Self-reliant
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Alec would never have in his pocket?
[Lisa Luedeke] A love note
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Katie’s single most prized possession?
[Lisa Luedeke] Her field hockey stick
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Lisa Luedeke] First, the natural world. I think and write best while I’m hiking or walking in the countryside near my home. When I’m out there, I problem solve my current story. Mull over whatever it is that I’m struggling with. Everything begins to get unstuck, to flow, and then a scene will come to me. If I like it, I rehearse it again and again in my mind, and when I get home I’m ready to write.
Robert Cormier & S.E Hinton’s YA books had a great influence on me, particularly The Chocolate War and The Outsiders. I wanted to write books that had the heart of Hinton’s books and the edge of Cormier’s. Cormier’s gone now, but he’s still one of the best writers in the YA field. Interestingly, neither of them wrote about girls (Cormier did in one book, but said he found it very difficult.) I knew I wanted to honestly portray girls’ lives in the pages of my books.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Lisa Luedeke] Ideally, a long walk to get a scene flowing—then a big mug of dark coffee and a quiet space. But I’m learning to write on airplanes!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Lisa Luedeke] Laurie Halse Anderson’s Chains. It’s an absolutely amazing historical novel about a slave girl from Rhode Island who’s sold to a family in New York City during the American Revolution. I loved the character with my whole heart, and the narrative is gripping—but I also learned a great deal about the revolution and slavery during that time period.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Lisa Luedeke] From my earliest memories, I loved to read. Everything. The Witch Who Wasn’t was an early favorite, though I can’t find it now; I think it’s out-of-print. Go Ask Alice was the book that turned me on to YA literature when I was ten.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Lisa Luedeke] Ashtanga yoga, hiking, skiing, swimming, reading, hanging out with friends & family.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Lisa Luedeke] Lisaluedeke.com
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
You can order Smashed from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below. Available in print and digital